Church of the Savior on Blood

Aleksandr Demianchuk/TASS

The Church of the Saviour on Blood, otherwise known as the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, was built on the spot where on March 1, 1881 the People’s Will revolutionary Ignaty Grinevitsky mortally wounded Emperor Alexander II. The new Emperor Alexander III personally selected the designs suggested by the architects and chose the project presented by Baltic German architect Alfred Parland and Orthodox Abbot Ignaty. They wanted the church to be stylised to look like the old churches of Kostroma and Yaroslavl, with time-consuming finishings; the 7,000 square metre (75,300 sq ft) mosaic alone, designed by Russian artists Viktor Vasnetsov and Mikhail Nesterov, took more than ten years to complete. 

In the years of the Leningrad Siege, the building was used as a morgue, and later as a warehouse of theatre stage sets and a vegetable storeroom. In 1961, the workers accidentally found an entire German landmine weighing 150 kilograms (330 pounds) in the church’s central cupola. In 1970, the Soviet leadership decided to turn the Church of the Saviour on Blood into a museum and so began the many years of restoration. In 2004, the Metropolitan bishop of St. Petersburg held a liturgical service here; the church, however, remains a museum.